By SOMAN BABY Published: 15th February 2008

MANAMA: A trouble-shooting panel cha-rged with heading off labour strikes has been set up by the government.

It is to hold talks with industry leaders, Bahraini union chiefs and foreign workers' representatives to ward off strikes and agitation in the work place.

The "pre-emptive" creation of the arbitration committee follows a spate of strikes by thousands of workers in the construction industry.

It has been set up by Labour Minister Dr Majeed Al Alawi, who said the committee would listen to all complaints, from workers and their employers.

"Strikes may be considered only as a last resort in any industrial relationship," he told the GDN yesterday.

"They should always be preceded by negotiations and arbitration. Only if they exhaust all such means, may they think about strikes."

Labour Under-Secretary Shaikh Abdulrahman bin Abdulla Al Khalifa is the chairman of the new committee.

The committee will hold talks with the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions and the Migrant Workers Protection Society.

"The establishment of this committee is a pre-emptive action to ensure peace and harmony in Bahrain's labour market," said Dr Al Alawi.

"Any group of employees or employers are free to meet this committee before they decide on any extreme action to sort out their labour issues."

Dr Al Alawi said his ministry was in touch with the owners of various construction companies hit by strikes.

Other members of the panel are Yousif Saleh Bouali and Hamad Taqui (Interior Ministry), Ahmed Al Khabbaz (LMRA), Sabah Salem Al Dosary, Abdulkarim Al fardan and Aref Bouhussein (Labour Ministry).

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